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    Chit Lijauco’s work as Managing Editor of the Philippine Tatler Magazine and Rotary District Governor for District 3820 for the year 2009-2010 has brought her to many places both in the Philippines and abroad.

    Yet, after a busy week in the city, she spends her weekends in her hometown of Santa Rosa in Laguna – drawn by her sense of tradition, her love of family, and for the laid-back kind of life.  Here, she shares with us the rustic charm of Santa Rosa that many of us rarely see and her thoughts of how the presence of an SM mall enhances the countryside.  This is her Santa Rosa. This is her SM.

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    “There are so many experiences I have had in Santa Rosa that have been helpful in shaping me as a writer.  There are a lot of memories there – like harvesting cotton from cotton trees to stuff our pillows or of the baraka, our town market – some of which are endangered or are not in existence anymore. That is why one of the things that I plan to do in the future is chronicle all these slowly disappearing pleasures of rustic life.”

    Chit at the Gusaling Museo in Santa Rosa, which houses historical treasures like pre-Hispanic, pre and post War antiques from the collection of Architect Mario Zavalla; as well as rare artifacts from the Tang, Ying, and Ming dynasties, which were found in the area of Barrio Caingin.

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    “My family’s love for old houses we have an ancestral home that probably dates back to American colonial times – inspired me to be involved in activities that aim to preserve my hometown’s heritage. “

    “ I started to become involved in the community when I went back to build my weekend house.  I was already in the Rotary then and met old friends who have the same desire to preserve the old houses and church, which are part of Santa Rosa’s past.  I was invited to join a movement, Kilusang Kuartel de Santo Domingo, to help preserve a 17th century fort on the way to Tagaytay.  That started it all.”

    Chit with prominent Santa Rosa residents Conchita Delfino, Antonia Tiongco, and brother Ramon Lijauco at the Tiongco ancestral house owned by Richard M. Tiongco.

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    “Years ago, when we went to Church, we knew everyone.  That’s one of the pleasures of the rustic life.”

    The Santa Rosa de Lima Parish is one of the oldest cultural attractions in the city.  This beautiful baroque stone church, is named after Santa Rosa de Lima, the first saint of the Western hemisphere, and the second patron saint of colonial Philippines.  Chit has been active in the preservation of the church.

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    “Santa Rosa has many culinary delights.  That is why I became actively involved in the promotion of food. In the Rotary, we started what we call Baraka, which means palengke in our town and in most of Southern Luzon provinces.  Baraka was a trade fair meant to promote Laguna’s products, including culinary specialties, and we wish to revive it today.”

    Santa Rosa is a foodie’s haven of southern Tagalog specialties.

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    Dinilawan, kanduli fish from Laguna Lake with coconut milk and yellow ginger; YapYap, fresh river shrimp with kamias and coconut milk; Kilawin na Puso ng Saging, and Sinukmane; Atole, a corn based delicacy; and, Mache, sticky rice with syrup, Santa Rosa’s own version of mochi.

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    “When I’m in Santa Rosa, people greet you and say hello, and I often find myself chatting with neighbors, some of who would unexpectedly drop by with food.  That is one of the simple pleasures you do not get in the city.”

    Chit enjoys some girl talk with her friends from the Rotary – Mary Ann Gonzales, Carol Salbahan, and Precy de la Cruz – at one of their favorite places in SM City Santa Rosa– the homegrown Beanyard Coffee shop.

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    “SM has been so helpful to me.  As Rotary Governor, I have been traveling all over Southern Luzon – even to Masbate and Bicol.  When I see an SM Mall after passing through towns I am not so familiar with, I tell myself, wow, I’m nearing the city, and that lets me know I am safe and near my destination.”


    Having an SM mall in Santa Rosa makes things so convenient – it has it all, as they say   When my daughter comes home from New York – kids in tow – I tell her not to worry if they need anything as she can always go to SM.  When my son was buying things for his first baby, we advised him to wait until after the babyfs birth, assuring him that whatever he would need, he could always get at SM.  I guess SM is part of not only mine, but everyone’s family life.

    SM City Santa Rosa has brought SM’s shopping, leisure, and entertainment excitement to this bustling Southern Luzon city.